What is privilege?

White privilege, male privilege, check your privilege: whatever it may be, privilege is a desired burden. People with privilege have some sort of advantage over the other, yet there is such a negative connotation. Feminists resented the male privilege and the Black Panthers fought the white power, but for what? They contest their counterparts’ advantage for an advantage of their own. Privilege is both resented and desired at the same time. It is the campaign and the goal. The ultimate paradox is fighting the power to gain the power. If you are the privileged, you are made to feel guilty for your advantage from the people less fortunate. So what is privilege? Privilege is what everyone blames and desires at the same time.

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One thought on “What is privilege?

  1. annyhuu

    I completely agree with you that while privilege is something a lot of people desire, it can also cause a lot of distress and finding the balance can be hard. A few weeks ago, I got a surprise visit from a distressed friend after her first half semester at Wellesley, and her comment about privilege really got me thinking. She said that “PC–politically correct” and “check your privilege” were two terms that the student body used very commonly.

    As students who studied at international high schools, we all come from quite economically privileged backgrounds and travel a lot because of the nature of our parents’ jobs and how our schools operated. For instance, I went to seven different schools in three continents before coming to college, and travelled to three different countries for our school’s Model United Nations conferences. In our high school, traveling globally did not seem special at all since everyone did it, but in college, this was no longer true.

    My friend said that, at Wellesley, she constantly had to watch what she was saying as other students would harshly comment “Woah, check your privilege” as a response. For example, when she talked about her internship in London and family trip to Turkey during the summer before college, many glares were directed at her from those who were not as privileged in the same areas. So while others talked normally about their summer adventures, all she could do was listen and reply with “My summer was okay” to prevent any trouble.

    Thus, although I am very thankful for the opportunities provided by my “international” and economic privileges, it also becomes a burden at times. I can imagine that for those men who are also aware of their male privilege (though the number is not large), all the feminist critiques may also be stressful as well.

    Reply

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